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Circe

by Madeline Miller

Historical Fiction Sci-Fi and Fantasy

LoveReading View on Circe

The Song of Achilles was a beautiful and evocative retelling of a Greek myth which well deserved its praise and prize.  It is possible that this second offering is even better.  The language is poetic with not a word wasted, a real joy to read.  I remember Circe was one of the challenges met by Odysseus, the one who turned men into pigs.  The beautiful character who narrates this story is that same “wicked witch” but a far cry from how Homer portrayed her.  She is lovely, misunderstood, wilful and brilliant, a strong woman slowly growing into her power.  Many famous mythical figures pepper these pages; Jason, Prometheus, the Minator … but don’t worry if you haven’t heard of them all, this spellbinding story gives you all you need to know.  If you are familiar with the myths you will find new life in them in this enchanting retelling.  I really cannot praise it enough.  It is a special book, bridging romance, fantasy, poetic literature and feminist writing to create a work of high standard with wide appeal.  I loved it and I think you will too.

Sarah Broadhurst

Circe Synopsis

In the house of Helios, god of the sun and mightiest of the Titans, a daughter is born. Circe is a strange child - not powerful and terrible, like her father, nor gorgeous and mercenary like her mother. Scorned and rejected, Circe grows up in the shadows, at home in neither the world of gods or mortals. But Circe has a dark power of her own: witchcraft. When her gift threatens the gods, she is banished to the island of Aiaia where she hones her occult craft, casting spells, gathering strange herbs and taming wild beasts. Yet a woman who stands alone will never be left in peace for long - and among her island's guests is an unexpected visitor: the mortal Odysseus, for whom Circe will risk everything. So Circe sets forth her tale, a vivid, mesmerizing epic of family rivalry, love and loss - the defiant, inextinguishable song of woman burning hot and bright through the darkness of a man's world.

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Circe Press Reviews

A novel to be gobbled greedily in a single sitting - Observer

Circe is poised to become the literary sensation of the summer, as much for the quality of its writing as its timeliness - Sunday Times Magazine

Enough magic, enchantment, voyages and wonders to satisfy the most jaded sword-and-sorcery palate. Miller approaches Odysseus's story from Circe's point of view, richly evoking her protagonist's overlapping identities as goddess, witch, lover and mother -- Adam Roberts - Guardian, Books of the Year

A triumph - The Times, Books of the Year

Circe back as superwoman ... Homer's witch get a kickass modern makeover... Miller's Me Too-era, kickass portrait of a woman trying to defy the men and Fates arrayed against her is enchanting... Blisteringly modern - The Times

In a thrilling tour de force of imagination, Miller makes her otherworldly heroine a complex, sympathetic figure for whom we cheer throughout. Circe is a truly spellbinding novel, the mesmerising shimmer of ancient magic rising from it like a heat haze - Mail on Sunday

A brilliantly strange work of mythic science fiction, as effortlessly expressive within the palaces of gods as it is about the world below ... Superb ... This is both a fabulous novel and a fascinating retelling; the best compliment, perhaps, that any myth could hope for - Daily Telegraph

This year's novels were filled with the angry clamour of women's voices: ignored, idealistic or excitingly ambivalent. Madeline Miller reflected the mood for feminist revisionism with her lissom follow-up Circe, which casts the witch goddess in the Odyssey not as a bit player in a man's epic but as the star of her own show -- Claire Allfree - Daily Telegraph, Books of the Year

It was a big year for creative retelling of myth and pre-modern literature; a favourite was Madeline Miller's Circe, a distinctive, lyrical novel about power, agency and reponsibility, from the point of view of this crafty, much-misunderstood goddess -- Emily Wilson - Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year

The writing is lovely, the tone assured, and the touch just right -- Alexander McCall Smith - Independent, Books of the Year

It is out of these insights that Miller achieves real narrative propulsion ... Supple, pitched in a register that bridges man and myth - Guardian

The first witch in Western literature sets Homer straight as she tells her life story, from her unhappy childhood to her lonely island exile. The woman who emerges is complex and sympathetic. A spellbinding tour de force of imagination - Mail on Sunday, `Sizzling summer reads'

Miller has effected a transformation just as impressive as any of her heroine's own: she's turned an ancient tale of female subjugation into one of empowerment and courage full of contemporary resonances -- Lucy Scholes - Independent

What more could you wish for on holiday than this fabulously written re-imagining of the myth? Gods, monsters and mortals are lushly evoked in a page-turner that is as gripping as a soap opera and which triumphantly fuses myth with our contemporary concerns -- Elizabeth Buchan - Daily Mail, Books of the Summer 2018

Dubbed the `feminist Odyssey', there's so much to like about Circe. From the author of the much-loved The Song of Achilles, this novel puts a feminist spin on Greek mythology, recasting Circe, the vilified witch infamous for turning men into pigs, in a sympathetic light. Subverting the usual masculine tropes of epic adventure narratives, Miller tells the story of the women who have been historically silenced. And on top of that, she makes Greek myths and culture, which is often perceived as impenetrable and intimidating, accessible. A real page-turner - Elle Magazine

Illuminates known stories from a new perspective ... Miller has determined, in her characterization of this most powerful witch, to bring her as close as possible to the human, as a thoughtful and compassionate woman who learns to love unselfishly ... A highly psychologized, redemptive and ultimately exculpatory account of the protagonist herself -- Claire Messud - New York Times

The Orange prizewinner Madeline Miller reimagines Circe, the witch from The Odyssey. In Miller's retelling Circe is a suitably bolshie character who is not going to be bossed around by men. The writing is beautiful - The Times

An epic that's also a page-turner - i

Fabulous ... Bold and sensuously written, it plays brilliantly with the original myth of Circe - Daily Mail

I've been waiting for Circe by Madeline Miller for what feels like forever. Since her 2011 debut, The Song of Achilles - a queer retelling of the Iliad from Patroclus' perspective - I've been crowing about the wit and magic of Miller's prose. Circe did not disappoint. It's a feminist tale of the nymph child of Helios, the sun god, who is exiled for practising witchcraft. Circe lives for hundreds of years, encountering heroes, gods and legends, but it never feels like a Greek mythology lesson. Actually, it feels more like a splashy, gossipy memoir written by a celebrity who has met everyone. I suspect this will be my book of the year -- Caroline O'Donoghue - Irish Times

Greek myth is fertile fictional terrain for Miller, who won the Orange Prize with her debut, The Song of Achilles. Her new novel is narrated by Circe, the witch from Homer's Odyssey, who is banished to a remote island and there learns how to survive as a woman alone in the world -- Anita Sethi - Independent, Books of 2018

A bold and subversive retelling of the goddess's story that manages to be both epic and intimate in its scope, recasting the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right - New York Times

The Song of Achilles was a big hit; Circe will be, too - Sunday Times

[Miller] gives voice to Circe as a multifaceted and evolving character ... Circe is very pleasurable to read, combining lively versions of familiar tales and snippets of other, related standards with a highly psychologized, redemptive and ultimately exculpatory account of the protagonist herself - New York Times Book Review

God though she may be, here she faces life - and its love, heartbreak, loneliness and motherhood - with immensely relatable humanity. The definition of female strength in all its fractured, fragile glory - **** Stylist

Offers opportunities for feminist revision of famous characters both mortal and divine, especially the egotistical Odysseus and the irresponsible and laddish Hermes. It also leads to a suspenseful metaphysical dilemma ... Polished diction and descriptive powers - Prospect

Absorbing ... One of the most amazing qualities of this novel [is]: We know how everything here turns out -we've known it for thousands of years - and yet in Miller's lush reimagining, the story feels harrowing and unexpected. The feminist light she shines on these events never distorts their original shape; it only illuminates details we hadn't noticed before... In the story that dawns from Miller's rosy fingers, the fate that awaits Circe is at once divine and mortal, impossibility strange and yet entirely human - Washington Post

A look at mythology with fresh eyes ... In Circe the female perspective sharpens into focus in a way that doesn't happen in the original - Wall Street Journal

Miller excels at reworking myths and legends for a modern audience ... Miller conjures up a cast of strong, relatable characters, from cold-hearted gods and flawed heroes to deadly monsters-and best of all-a strong female protagonist. Fabulously readable - Scotsman

Beautifully written throughout ... Miller has broken [Circe] free of the conventions of the masculine epic - Literary Review

A refreshingly complex and utterly compelling portrait of one of the most intriguing women in western literature ... Miller's depiction of what it feels like to work magic is extraordinarily vivid and convincing ... What elevates Circe is Miller's luminous prose, which is both enormously readable and evocative, and the way in which she depicts the gulf between gods and mortals ... Circe can be part of that cycle of cruel and pointless conflict, or she can choose to break it. In this unforgettable novel, Miller makes us care about that magical, mythical choice - Irish Times

This is a gorgeous retelling of Homer's Odyssey blended with other legends. Miller creates a magical narrative: strong relatable characters, cold-hearted gods, flawed heroes, deadly monsters, and best of all, a strong female protagonist. Overall, it is fabulously readable - Herald

In Circe, Miller gives depth and history to the title character, how it was she came to be on her island, and her struggles as an independent woman. The heroes of Greek myths - the gods, Odysseus and so on - get shoved to the side, as Miller brings to the forefront a fascinating, captivating female character. This is wonderfully detailed and well worth the more than five year wait since The Song of Achilles - Stylist, The 20 must-read books to make room for in 2018

A mesmerising, fiercely feminist and lyrical retelling of a story from Greek mythology - as enchanting as the enchantress herself - Psychologies

Circe is the utterly captivating, exquisitely written story of an ordinary, and extraordinary, woman's life -- Eimear McBride, author of A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing An epic spanning thousands of years that's also a keep-you-up-all-night page turner -- Ann Patchett Captivating ... Will entertain and enchant - Sunday Express Magazine

Horror, heartache and grit pour from the pages of this exquisitely written and compelling novel. An alchemist with words, Miller continues to rejuvenate the classics with her exceptional talent ... Circe is one of the best and most rewarding books of 2018 - Attitude, 'Book of the Month'

Dazzling - Woman & Home

Gives Greek mythology a modern, feminist twist - Elle

Even better than its predecessor. Written in supple, imaginative prose, it conjures up brilliantly a vivid world in which the lives of gods and mortals are intimately intertwined - BBC History Magazine

Miller weaves an intoxicating tale of gods and heroes, magic and monsters, survival and transformation - i

A life-affirming tale of astonishing beauty ... A sensuous, thrilling experience, combining exquisite prose with high drama ... The pettiness and casual brutality of the deities is sadly recognisable in modern political times, while Circe's quest for validation will ring a chord with men and women alike - Toast Book Club

With her classicist's ear, Miller infuses her prose with Homeric rhythms, to mischievous and lovely effect. With nods to a wealth of ancient works, she crafts her own triumphant Circe ... Miller's Circe is a shrewd and cool character, capable of great love but also possessed of a lethally ruthless streak. Her mixture of assiduous domesticity and merciless witchcraft is addictively conveyed - The Lady

The exiled witch, who barely gets more than a mention in Homer's The Odyssey, is at the centre of a page-turning feminist romp - The Pool, Summer Reads 2018

Miss Miller leaves us utterly bewitched - Country Life

Gorgeously written ... It leaves you thinking about it for weeks - Grazia

Madeline Miller's Circe stood out for me as hugely enjoyable, powerfully entertaining read, full of ruthless gods and unreliable mortals, in which the author (an American classics teacher) reimagines Circe as a damaged girl who uses witchcraft to protect herself from swinish men and discovers the ultimate power of human love -- Anne Chisholm - Tablet, Books of the Year

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All versions of this book

ISBN: 9781408890042
Publication date: 01/04/2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9781408890080
Publication date: 19/04/2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Hardback

Book Information

ISBN: 9781408890042
Publication date: 1st April 2019
Author: Madeline Miller
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Format: Paperback
Pagination: 352 pages
Genres: Historical Fiction, Sci-Fi and Fantasy,
Categories: Historical fiction, Myth & legend told as fiction,

About Madeline Miller

Madeline Miller has a BA and MA from Brown University in Latin and Ancient Greek, and has been teaching both for the past nine years. She has also studied at the Yale School of Drama, specialising in adapting classical tales to a modern audience. The Song of Achilles is her first novel.   Author photo © Nina Subin

More About Madeline Miller

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